Scientists Wire a Luxury Tower in San Francisco with Seismic Sensors

West
Thursday, June 14, 2012
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One Rincon Hill and the San Francisco Bay. (sheenjek/flickr)

California’s tallest residential-only tower and, according to some, the ugliest building in San Francisco has been given a new purpose following the installation last month of 72 accelerographs, or strong motion seismographs, within the building. Through a collaboration between the California Geological Survey, the U.S. Geological Survey, and Madnusson Klemencic Associates, the building’s structural engineers, the 641-foot southern tower of the One Rincon Hill luxury condominium development at the base of the Bay Bridge is now home to the “densest network of seismic monitoring instruments ever installed in an American high-rise,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported. These instruments, located at strategic points throughout 24 floors of the building, will provide “unprecedented” seismic data, which will in turn lead to better building codes and guidelines for structural engineers and future high-rise builders.

Continue reading after the jump.

San Francisco To Help Citizens Create “Better Streets”

West
Thursday, May 24, 2012
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The City of San Francisco recently launched sfbetterstreets.org to encourage public participation in city planning.

The City of San Francisco recently launched sfbetterstreets.org to encourage public participation in city planning.

 

One of Jane Jacobs’ most valuable contributions to the understanding of cities was her faith in the wisdom of the urban dweller. She argued that the physical city—and any approach to city planning—could not be separated from the wisdom of each individual inhabitant, “People who know well such animated city streets will know how it is. I am afraid people who do not will always have it a little wrong in their heads, like the old prints of rhinoceroses made from travelers’ descriptions of rhinoceroses.” The complication arising from Jacobs’ argument is simple though difficult to solve; how can we plan a city when planning is one part abstraction and abstraction removes us from Jacobs’ precious “real life” mentality?

A step towards solving this contradiction is sfbetterstreets.org, a website launched last week by the City of San Francisco. Developed by the San Francisco Planning Department in conjunction with other city agencies, the website is part of the city’s larger, “Better Streets” initiative. The legislative concept, described in San Francisco’s Better Streets Plan, is to create streets “designed and built to strike a balance between all users regardless of physical abilities or mode of travel… maximizing features for the comfort, usability, and aesthetics of people walking.”

Continue reading after the jump.

LA the Latest to Join the Nationwide Bike Share Game

National, Newsletter
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
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A rendering of a bike share station in LA. (Courtesy Bike Nation)

A rendering of a bike share station in LA. (Courtesy Bike Nation)

Over the weekend, over 100,000 pedestrians and cyclists packed the streets of Los Angeles for the city’s CicLAvia open streets initiative, a play off of the the Ciclovia in Bogotá, Columbia which popularized the movement to shut down city streets to cars and turn them over to the community for a day.

But masses of people taking to the streets wasn’t the big news out of LA. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa made a surprise announcement that the city is the latest to join the bike share craze that’s been pedaling across the nation. When it opens later this year, LA’s bike share system will be among the largest in the country, so AN decided to take stock of where some of the biggest initiatives stand today.

Continue reading after the jump.

America’s Cup Carousel Keeps Turning

West
Monday, March 26, 2012
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Piers 27-29 would be the focus of the scaled down event, although piers 30-32 may still be in play. (Courtesy America's Cup)

Piers 27-29 would be the focus of the scaled down event, although piers 30-32 may still be in play. (Courtesy America's Cup)

The real estate roulette wheel known as the San Francisco America’s Cup is still in spin.  In the latest turn of events, the city has kicked in a modest $8 million or so to complete partial repairs to Piers 30-32, which had previously been removed from the deal by the privately-run America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA). Then, citing difficulties in securing corporate sponsors, the Authority named a new CEO and cut its staff in half.

Continue reading after the jump.

On View> Architecture in the Expanded Field

West
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
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(Courtesy CCA Wattis Institute)

(Courtesy CCA Wattis Institute)

Architecture in the Expanded Field
CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts
1111 8th St., San Francisco
Through April 7

Theorist and critic Rosalind Krauss’s 1979 text “Sculpture in the Expanded Field” attempts to identify the scope of sculpture in a time when artists were redefining its traditional limits to include considerations of architecture, landscape, and space. The Wattis attempts a similar redefinition of the field of architecture; installations explore material, spatial, and perceptual concerns with emerging experimental technologies outside the limits of traditional architectural practice. A full-scale installation within and outside of the gallery transports visitors into the immersive environment, while a surface component presents the mapped expanded field of architectural installation.

Salesforce’s Pastel Campus on Hold In SF.  Salesforce's Pastel Campus on Hold In SF The SF Chronicle reports that tech company Salesforce.com has put its big plans for a 2 million square foot Mission Bay campus on hold. Recently deceased architect Ricardo Legoretta was to lead the project, which would have included four colorful buildings and a large public plaza on 14 acres across from the UCSF Mission Bay  campus. The company will instead rent big blocks of space throughout the city until it decides what to do with the site. Stay tuned for more.  

 

Don’t We all Need One of These? SPUR Opens San Jose Office

West
Friday, February 3, 2012
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(Courtesy SPUR)

(Courtesy SPUR)

One of the Bay Area’s most effective urban instigators, SPUR (San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association) is opening an office in San Jose. The move came about for a few reasons, says the group. First, San Francisco has a declining share of the region’s population, so it makes sense to branch out. And second, most planning decisions are made locally, so SPUR needs to establish footholds in the area’s major cities.

The new branch office was made possible by a successful $1 million fundraising campaign that will fund operations over the next three years. Leah Toeniskoetter will head up the new office and brings a background in real estate and economic development and finance.

“San Jose wants to be walkable, it wants more transit-oriented development and sustainability,” SPUR Director Gabriel Metcalf told the San Francisco Business Times. “In many ways, San Jose’s challenge is America’s challenge.” A move to Oakland could be next on SPUR’s agenda.

West Coast Park(ing) Day Diary

Standard's park on Sunset Blvd in LA's Silver Lake neighborhood. (Carren Jao)

What if we could transform part of the massive space we dedicate to urban parking into public parks, and what would it look like? On Friday, over 100 cities worldwide participated in the sixth annual PARK(ing) Day, where citizens and designers temporarily converted metered parking spots into open public space. While we couldn’t jet set around the world, a couple of our reporters checked out the happenings in California, where the concept was born.

Before you check out the parks, we should mention that these grassroots efforts are slowly influencing permanent change. In San Francisco, a City Planning Department collaboration with design firm Rebar, which helped begin PARK(ing) Day, has led to the creation of the “Parklets” program, where parking spots around the city are being converted into permanent plazas and outdoor seating.  And on Friday, LA City Council members Jan Perry and Jose Huizar announced a partnership with local neighborhood groups in downtown LA and Eagle Rock to begin a Parklets pilot program in Los Angeles.   Read More

“Architecture of Consequence” Opens in San Francisco

West
Thursday, September 1, 2011
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Fletcher Studio came up with an intriguing way to reuse the Bay Bridge. (Courtesy Fletcher Studio)

Fletcher Studio came up with an intriguing way to reuse the Bay Bridge. (Courtesy Fletcher Studio)

Last night, the AIA SF launched a new exhibition, Architecture of Consequence: San Francisco, kicking off a whole slew of events in its annual Architecture in the City Festival, the country’s biggest such celebration of the built environment. The exhibit explores important social needs that architects can address and features the work of four San Francisco firms—Iwamoto Scott Architecture, Fletcher Studio, SOM, and Envelope A+D—side-by-side with four Dutch firms—Van Bergen Kolpa Architecten, 2012 Architecten, ZUS (Zones Humaines Sensibles), and OMA.

Continue reading after the jump.

Excerpt> Cityscapes by John King Rewards the Careful Observer

West
Thursday, August 25, 2011
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A shed for kayaks is one of 50 buildings highlighted in Cityscapes. (Courtesy John King/Heyday)

As the San Francisco Chronicle‘s urban design critic for the last decade, John King is one of the Bay Area’s most influential champions of good architecture. He chronicles the city’s projects, both large and small, with an eye to how they how they affect the city. (Most recently, he sounded the alarm about how the America’s Cup, with its proposed yacht dock, could change the waterfront for the worse.) His new book of short essays, Cityscapes (Heyday, 2011, $14.95), is based on his weekly column of the same name.

Continue reading after the jump.

Quick Clicks> Brodsky’s Vienna, Seating San Fran, Wind in the West, & Explorers Underground

Daily Clicks
Friday, July 22, 2011
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Alexander Brodsky at Az W (Courtesy Yuri Palmin)

Alexander Brodsky at Az W (Courtesy Yuri Palmin)

Day becomes night. Alexander Brodsky: It still amazes me that I became an architect will be open at the Architekturzentrum Wien in Vienna, Austria through October 3. Described by the gallery as a “total installation,” Archidose also notes that during the exhibition “the day becomes night, the dimensions of space and time appear to slowly dissolve as one paces an archaeological chamber of wonders. Having returned to daylight, a selection of Brodsky’s completed projects provides insights into his architectural oeuvre.” (More images after the jump.)

Steel becomes ribbon. Streetsblog reports that San Francisco metaphorically cut the ribbon, unveiling a new public space on the two-block Powell Street Promenade.  The Union Square shopping district is greatly improved by the eight six-foot wide Walter Hood-designed benches, constructed to resemble delicate ribbons.

Above the fray. The Westerholt E-66 Observation Wind Turbine stands out among the 40 turbines in the Holtriem Wind Park: it’s unique observation deck provides visitors with panoramic views of one Europe’s largest wind farms—for a price. Visitors must climb a 297-step spiral staircase to reach the viewing deck, according to Atlas Obscura.

Under the city. Produced by Silent UK, the documentary film Beneath the Surface trails urban explorers as they descend below the cities of London and Paris, says PSFK. The explorers climb through sewers, old subway lines, reminiscent of the NY Times five-day adventure last December under New York.

Check out a few more Brodsky images after the jump.

Quick Clicks> Ando’s Silence, Solar-Jet Printing, Attn:Birds, & Post Post

Daily Clicks
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
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SILENCE BY TADAO ANDO (COURTESY DEZEEN)

SILENCE BY TADAO ANDO (COURTESY DEZEEN)

Ando’s Silence. According to Dezeen, UK developer Grosvenor has partnered with the Westminster City Council on a project to open public space in Mayfair, London. The project aims to reduce unnecessary visual elements like signage and expand pedestrian areas. Architect Tadao Ando collaborated with firm Blair Associates to design Silence, an installation that intermittently produces fiber-optically illuminated vapor rising from the bases of trees.

Power Plant Printer. MIT News has revealed an exciting new technology: printable solar cells. According to MIT: “The basic process is essentially the same as the one used to make the silvery lining in your bag of potato chips: a vapor-deposition process that can be carried out inexpensively on a vast commercial scale.” So, not quite as easy as, say, printing out a power station on your inkjet, but still able to revolutionize the future of solar installations.

Building for Birds. The City of San Francisco is making an example of a new California Academy of Science building. It’s design for the birds. The San Francisco Chronicle notes the building’s innovative fabric screen deterring bird-on-building collisions could be applied to other structures in the city. “Bird-safe design” is a growing part of the conversation, but the question remains: will altering the transparency of urban glass structures detract from the design intent?

Déjà vu Design. Does that new building look strangely familiar? A new website called Post Post bills itself as the “comparative architecture index.” By juxtaposing projects of similar design languages or forms, the site hopes to “to illuminate the interwoven and complex relationships of congruous trajectories within contemporary architectural practice.” Have a look!

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